SAN ANTONIO — Overtime playoff hockey is suddenly Barons hockey.
After avoiding overtime in their first 11 playoff games in franchise history, the Barons needed extra time for the third-straight contest Thursday night — and for the third straight time, Oklahoma City took the game’s last shot.
And once again, it was Chris VandeVelde with the Barons’ dagger, lifting a backhander over San Antonio goaltender, Jacob Markstrom just 1:05 into overtime for a 2-1 victory and a commanding 3-1 series lead in the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs. The Barons can advance to the Western Conference finals against the Toronto Marlies by winning Friday night at the AT&T Center. Game time is 7.
If San Antonio manages to win Friday, then the Barons would host Game 6 at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Cox Center. The Rampage needs to win three consecutive games against the Western Division champion Barons to advance.
Magnus Paajarvi began the winning play by keeping the puck alive in the San Antonio zone and found Teemu Hartikainen down low. The Edmonton Oilers’ sixth-round pick threw the puck in front, where VandeVelde, who scored the OT winner Monday night, lured Markstrom into reaching for the puck before flipping it into the open net.
“We came out strong (in the overtime). We got the bounces,” said VandeVelde on his third goal of the playoffs. “I had a little space to put it in, and I did.”
VandeVelde was skating on the same line with Paajarvi and Hartikainen since Josh Green missed the game with a minor injury. It is not known if Green will play Friday night.